500 mm zoom for birding?

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by Larry, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Larry

    Larry TalkEmount Regular

    104
    May 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Larry
    I'm looking for a 500 mm zoom lens to put on my NEX6 for shooting birds. I've found 3 in the local stores.

    1. Sigma 50 - 500 mm.
    2. Sigma 150 - 500 mm.
    3. Tamron 200 - 500 mm.

    I have listed these in a non firm order. They are all A mounts. I do have a LA-EA1 but a would willing to upgrade to a LA-EA2.

    I don't own any Sigma lens. While the 50-500 is more expensive, it would allow me to only carry one lens in the field.

    I do own a Tamron 60 mm macro that I consider so so.

    I would like to hear from anyone that has experience with any of these lenses.

    Larry
     
  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    No experience, but from my research I'd say the order of your list is accurate, assuming newest versions of all three lenses.
     
  3. nightcapphoto

    nightcapphoto TalkEmount Rookie

    11
    Jun 28, 2013
    Columbia, SC USA
    Stewart Grinton
    I owned the Sigma 150-500 until recently. I used it with a Nikon D7000 which combined with the great high ISO performance of that camera was a very useful pairing. The image stabilization is rather audible. I thought it was a good, budget super telephoto. Slow, but great for what I could afford. It had a nice balance with a larger DSLR body even extended at it's longest focal range. But of course if you're birding you want to be on a tripod anyway. Especially with the little NEX.

    Alas, that whole rig was sold to fund my NEX-6 setup. Not one regret.
     
  4. Larry

    Larry TalkEmount Regular

    104
    May 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Larry
    Thanks all for the feed back.

    At one store I looked at the Sigma 150-500. They set it up on my NEX6. The zoom ring felt like it had sand in it. It was really grating. He told me it was just new and would settle in with use. I passed. Luckily we have several camera stores in this area. And of course the internet.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. nightcapphoto

    nightcapphoto TalkEmount Rookie

    11
    Jun 28, 2013
    Columbia, SC USA
    Stewart Grinton
    Wise decision. Cameras + sand = bad. I've ruined many a video camera with a combination of sea turtles, high winds and an overabundance of reckless enthusiasm.

    The Sigma copy I had was always silky smooth.
     
  6. Electric Shepherd

    Electric Shepherd TalkEmount Regular

    103
    May 12, 2012
    Leicestershire, U.K.
    Ben
    Mmmm, I'd most definitely pass on one that has a gritty feeling! I've just sold my Sigma 135-400 [bought a Nikon 300mm f/4 prime and teleconverter instead] and that was very smooth in use.
     
  7. Frank Teurlings

    Frank Teurlings TalkEmount Regular

    182
    Dec 10, 2012
    Netherlands
    A question out of curiosity. My Nikon I just sold for weight savings. If I would like to work with those listed here focal lengths I had my NIkon never sold and bought no Nex. What is the advantage to have a lens with this focal length on a Nex to place it is not balanced whole?
     
  8. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    I don't know about anyone else, but I can't hand hold anything over about 135mm, so anything over that is going on a tripod. Other than the weight of carrying it around the size really doesn't matter.
     
  9. Larry

    Larry TalkEmount Regular

    104
    May 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Larry
    I went to another camera store this morning to look at the Sigma 50-500. It's the only one I haven't tested yet. The sales person tells me they (the store) don't carry Sigma because they have had comparability issues with Sigma. He tells me Sigma doesn't get the specs from Sony to make A mount lenses so Sigma reverse engineers the lenses. I have not heard this during my research on the internet. This is really interesting considering I have heard some pretty glowing reviews on Sigma.
     
  10. Larry

    Larry TalkEmount Regular

    104
    May 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Larry
    I've been in touch with 4 camera stores in my area. Three of the four stores don't carry Sigma because they report quality or compatibility issues. This is disheartening. I'm going to slow down and think about this for a bit.

    Thanks to all for the comments.

    Larry
     
  11. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    That's surprising, Sigma usually has a pretty good reputation. The ones I've had were stellar performers, though they were not the most recent AF models and they were Pentax PK mount rather than A mount.

    You are correct that Sigma does reverse engineering rather than pay a licensing fee for their lens mounts. I can't speak personally about the AF capabilities of Sigma lenses on the LA-EA1/2 adapters. You might head over to DPR Sony NEX Talk forum and ask either zackiedawg or nzmacro their thoughts as they both use long lenses on NEX bodies for birding.
     
  12. lowbone

    lowbone TalkEmount Regular

    99
    Oct 21, 2012
    I used to own the Sigma 50-500 and used it on a Canon DSLR. It was very slow focusing and was easily confused by busy backgrounds. It is also an extremely slow lens, at 500mm it is said to be f 6.3 but is really f 6.7. It is a fairly heavy lens and didn't balance well on my Canon DSLR. I think it would be more of a problem with a NEX.It is also not 500mm, at infinity focus and set at 500mm it is about 460mm. This is not uncommon with zoom lens manufacturers rounding of the mm to where they think you would like it to be. Considering the somewhat slow focusing of the NEX along with the very slow focusing of the Sigma 50-500 I would avoid a lens of this type unless you plan to shoot only stationary birds. The NEX camera is good for many things, birding is not one of them.
     
  13. macro

    macro TalkEmount Regular

    152
    Feb 3, 2012
    New Zealand
    Danny Young
    Aww don't know about that. Its all my NEX-7 does is bird shots and MF

    Danny.
     
  14. Nex Tex

    Nex Tex TalkEmount Regular

    46
    Jul 25, 2013
    How about Sigma 120-400mm?
     
  15. lowbone

    lowbone TalkEmount Regular

    99
    Oct 21, 2012
    I'm not sure we are talking about the same thing. When I refer to birding I am talking about birds in flight. Any long lens can capture stationary birds. The continuous focus on my NEX 7 won't keep up with a slow moving bicycle let alone a fast moving bird. In addition, at 500mm depth of field is often measured in inches thereby making zone focusing or manual focusing not viable for a small bird.
     
  16. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Well, if Danny is the same person who posts under the nzmacro name over at DPReview, you're about to get a pleasant surprise, lowbone. Welcome, Danny, and go ahead, show off a little! ;)
     
  17. loonsailor

    loonsailor TalkEmount Regular

    45
    Feb 7, 2013
    Berkeley, CA, USA
    I haven't had any of those lenses, but I do own a Sigma 120-400mm, sort of a sister lens to the 150-500. Its a Nikon mount that I used with my D300. I used it a lot for sports, but also some bird stuff. I have been happy with it, and it focuses well enough on my D300, but it's hard to know what that would translate to on a NEX with an entirely different focus system. The sharpness is good, but not spectacular. Certainly not as good as my new Sigma primes that I use on the NEX. There's some distortion, but when corrected with the available profile on Lightroom it's no problem at all. However, I doubt that there's a profile available for it on the NEX (adobe profiles are specific to camera-lens combo), so you might need to make one if this is an issue for you. Since it's the same sensor size, the Nikon-sigma profile might work well enough.

    You can see some of my bird shots here Jerry Fiddler Photography : Galapagos : Birds. Unfortunately, smugmug info doesn't include lens manufacturer. Anything longer than 200 is definitely with the sigma, including most or all of the swallow-tail gulls, nazca boobies, herons, and albatross. Almost all of the ultimate frisbee galleries at Jerry Fiddler Photography : Sports are also with the 120-400.

    I think the biggest part of your decision will be focus speed. Since none of those lenses are made for the Sony, you're just going to have to try them.

    BTW, the lens is much too big and heavy for me handheld, but is fine on a monopod. the 150-500 is, of course, a bit bigger and heavier still.
     
  18. Larry

    Larry TalkEmount Regular

    104
    May 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Larry
    Nice to see all the comments. I have not decided on which lens to get yet. I've been considering the Sony 70-400. It's quite a bit more money but a lot more lens. I would have to save up more to get it. Right now I use my SEL18200, I put it JPG mode and kick in the Clear Image Zoom. And I still can't fill the sensor. I do like to catch the birds in flight, mostly taking off or landing. I shoot mostly the bigger birds so they are relatively slower.
     
  19. Larry

    Larry TalkEmount Regular

    104
    May 23, 2013
    Seattle, WA
    Larry
    Oops. I should add I'm looking at the G2 model of the SAL70400.
     
  20. macro

    macro TalkEmount Regular

    152
    Feb 3, 2012
    New Zealand
    Danny Young
    On the NEX-7 its actually............

    500mm F/4.5L

    at 10 meters = 70mm

    at 20 meters = 280mm

    at 30 meters = 640mm

    DSC04876.

    DSC05035.

    DSC06483.

    DSC0100351-01.

    DSC02347.

    DSC02122-2.

    DSC04108.

    DSC03529.

    DSC03530.

    Flukes, well I do have thousands of flukes in that case. Would you like larger birds.

    All the best.

    Danny.